Snow Canyon State Park - Utah

{Click on an image to enlarge, then use the back button to return to this page}
(Fig. 01)
Snow Canyon State Pk-2
(Fig. 02)
Directions: From the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino it is about 126 miles and will take roughly 2 hrs and 10 mins based upon traffic. Take the I-15 North to St. George, Utah. When you reach St. George, take exit 10 (Washington). Turn right off the ramp then an immediate left at the light. Follow this road for approximately 5 miles to the intersection with Bluff Street/ SR-18. Proceed through the light and continue on Snow Canyon Parkway for approximately 3.5 miles and turn right onto Snow Canyon Drive. Follow this road to the south entrance of the park.

Park History: Snow Canyon State Park is a 7,400-acre scenic park tucked amid lava flows and soaring sandstone cliffs in a strikingly colorful and fragile desert environment. It is located within the 62,000-acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve that was established to protect the federally listed desert tortoise and its habitat. Established as a park in 1959, Snow Canyon has a long history of human use. Anasazi Indians inhabited the region from A.D. 200 to 1250, utilizing the canyon for hunting and gathering. Paiute Indians used the canyon from A.D. 1200 to the mid-1800s. Mormon pioneers discovered Snow Canyon in the 1850s while searching for lost cattle. Over time, the canyon has been the site of Hollywood films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Electric Horseman, and Jeremiah Johnson. Originally called Dixie State Park, it was later renamed for Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, prominent pioneering Utah leaders.

Park Geology: Transported by wind more than 183 million years ago, tiny grains of quartzite sand covered much of what is now Utah. These sand dunes, up to 2,500 feet thick, eventually cemented into stone. Burnt orange to creamy white in color, Navajo sandstone, the predominant rock in the park, is what remains of the ancient desert sand sea. Navajo Sandstone can be correlated with the Aztec Sandstone to the southwest in California and Nevada. Over time, water cut and shaped the sandstone to form canyons. Approximately 1.4 million years ago, and as recently as 27,000 years ago, nearby cinder cones erupted causing lava to flow down these canyons, filling them with basalt. This redirected ancient waterways, eventually carving new canyons. Today, you can look up to see lava-capped ridges that were once canyon bottoms.

04/08/2015 Trip Notes: The “Three Musketeers” (Harvey, Bob & Blake) and I (Fig. 01) made a trip to the Snow Canyon State Park in Utah, just north of St. George. This picture was taken from the park overview, see (Fig. 02), with the Red Mountains in the background. Our first trek of the day was the relatively short, one mile R/T, Pioneer Names Trail, refer to (Fig. 02).This trail involved some minor rock scaling as it passes the side of a cliff where some pioneers wrote their names on the sandstone using axle grease (Fig. 03). The earliest dates back 134 years to 1881. The view in (Fig. 04) is looking north from a spot near the base of the cliff. Next we tackled the 2-mile R/T Butterfly Trail.
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
Cutting west across the canyon, past the petrified dunes, the Butterfly Trail had some steep slopes, steps and uneven surfaces (Fig. 05) that eventually led to the West Canyon Overlook (Fig. 02). You can see the top of the West Canyon Overlook just below the arrow in (Fig. 05). The next two views are from the overlook; the first looking south toward the park entrance (Fig. 06), and the second looking north toward the “Whiterocks Trail & Amphitheater” (Fig. 07). From here we headed north to the Lava Tubes and the Lava Flow Trail.
EP-Snow Canyon 06
(Fig. 05)
EFP-Butterfly Viewpoint
(Fig. 06)
EFP-Butterfly Viewpoint 2
(Fig. 07)
Just a few hundred feet north of the viewpoint we came to the first of three open lava tubes (Figs. 08 & 09) that are scattered along the Lava Flow Trail. There are three separate and distinct lava flows in the park. The two oldest, dated between 1.4 and 1.1 million years ago, cap the cliff on the east side of the canyon. The flow at the canyon floor is the youngest, approximately 27,000 years old. As you can see from (Fig. 10), the Lava Flow Trail is filled with lava rocks. On our way to the first lava tube, we pasted a cactus (Fig. 11) that had a birds nest with four eggs in it (Fig. 12). Hiking both this and the Butterfly Trail provided the opportunity for capturing a wide variety of wildflowers along the way. From Desert Paintbrush (Fig. 13) to flowering cacti (Fig. 16), to blueish purple (Fig. 17), there was a wide range of color. However, my best find of the day was that of a Sego Lily (Calochortus gunnisonii), a.k.a. Mariposa lily (Fig. 18). Click here for more information on this beautiful flower … Sego Lily (Calochortus gunnisonii). The final three views (Figs. 19-21) were take from the Park Overview, see (Fig. 02). The final two pictures were taken by fellow hiking partner Robert Croke.
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
EFP-Lava Flow
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)

(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
EFP-Snow Canyon 05
(Fig. 19)
EFP-Panorama Overlook on Butterfly Tr 1
(Fig. 20)
EFP-Panorama Overlook on UT18 2
(Fig. 21)